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Enterprise Software: The Ultimate Guide & 7 Tools You Need in 2022

Darwin Batinga

Updated July 2, 2022

Types of Enterprise Software That Will Have a Solid Impact on Your Business

Take five seconds to remember the last time you didn’t use technology — in any way, shape, or form — in the day-to-day operations of your business.

Five. Four. Three. Two. One.

Time’s up.

Did you come up blank?

This comes as no surprise as technology has permeated every aspect, discipline, and function of all businesses across all industries and sectors — from marketing to sales, to office administration and human resource management.

It also comes as no surprise that the Enterprise Software Market has seen a hockey stick growth in the last few years and is expected to continue on an upward trajectory. Experts project a revenue increase at an annual growth rate (CAGR 2022-2027) of 7.20%, with market volume projected to hit $344.40 billion by 2027. With some estimates even pegging the CAGR at 10%, enterprise software represents the fastest-growing segment in the overarching IT spend of businesses.

In business, when there’s demand, there are needs that are being served.

Before diving into the specific types of enterprise software that can pivot the way you do business this 2022, here are the key benefits of investing in enterprise software.

The “Why’s” of Enterprise Software: 5 Key Benefits Explained

1. It Can Save You Money

Fact: You need a significant capital outlay to get started on enterprise software.

According to a report, the cost of implementation of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software alone can run anywhere between $150,000 and $750,000 for a mid-sized company.

Also a fact: When planned thoroughly, strategized thoughtfully, and executed efficiently, the long-term savings that you will be reaping outweighs the initial cost.

A real-world example of a manufacturing company using ERP software reduced operation costs by 23% and administrative expenses by 22% annually.

Given that most enterprise software has a lifespan of 15 years, enterprise software can pay for itself over time with a considerable return on investment on top of your initial capital outlay.

2. It Saves You Time

Closely linked to cost savings is time savings because, in business, time equals money.

One of the hallmarks of enterprise software is automation. Tasks, processes, and systems that were manually executed in the past that consume dozens of hours and take a lot of human capital can now be finished from end to end at a significantly reduced timeframe.

It’s not just your IT department that will be spared from tedious and laborious manual processes – the benefit is felt across the board. Enterprise software provider Strategic Systems Group interviewed employees from different departments of a client they serve and here’s the response of a production manager: “I got my time back because I can now identify potential machine issues, prevent downtime, and increase product quality and yield before issues occur. I can also perform production planning and asset maintenance in real-time, which extends the life and performance of my equipment. Everything that used to be a manual task is now automated and optimized.”

A well-executed enterprise software ecosystem streamlines every aspect of your business, making every tick of the clock time well spent which contributes to your business’s overall productivity, productivity, and profitability.

3. It Reduces Human Error

To err is human, as the cliche goes.

Even your most meticulous employee can commit errors from time to time. When errors pile up and happen frequently enough, it can disrupt your workflows, cause inconsistencies, and hurt your overall performance.

For example, one of the most rampant human errors that businesses struggle with is data loss. Most studies find that an average of 25% of all data loss incidents can be attributed to human error, giving truth to the age-old IT joke that “problems exist between a keyboard and a chair.”

This is where enterprise software comes in. With minimal moving pieces needing human intervention, the risk for human error is minimized. Additional layers of accuracy protocols such as programmable quality checks, AI-powered discrepancy detection, and machine learning-enabled warning systems significantly narrow the margin for human errors.

4. It Gives You Scalability and Flexibility

If there’s anything the last two years taught us is that everything is possible and anything can change.

One day you have your business operations centralized in physical locations. The next day, a global pandemic forces you and your team to run everything from your home offices.

No matter how large or small your enterprise is right now, chances are it won’t be the same in the future, which underscores the importance of scalability and flexibility. Having the ability to respond to changing business needs – whether internal or external – also reduces downtime. This is important because every unproductive second is equivalent to opportunity loss and more importantly, revenue loss.

In 2013, when Amazon experienced a 45-minute outage, it lost $5 million. Today, if Amazon experiences the same outage, it would lose more than $10 million. Even a website disruption can wreak havoc on businesses. According to Shopping Cart Elite, a six-hour website downtime can make a website’s ranking slip by 30% and its effects and this rankings damage could persist for up to 60 days.

Scalability and flexibility are difficult to achieve if you’re using manual processes, where platforms run on local devices of your employees, and where data is scattered in siloed locations. They need agility and fast implementation across company-wide assets.

With scalable enterprise software, you minimize system downtime while achieving a streamlined user experience. As a result, your organization will boost user engagement, increase customer retention rate, and increase revenue.

5. It Boosts Security

Full disclosure: while enterprise software can improve security, it can also serve as an entry point for cyberattacks and data breaches.

Several security vulnerabilities such as system complexity, access rights, delayed updates, compliance issues, inherent cloud-based risks, system authorization, and single-factor authentication create entry points for hackers and internal and external data thieves.

The key is to put security at the core of every enterprise software implementation. Safeguards such as role-based access, two-factor authentication, day zero attacks detection, VPN restriction, and authorization protocols just to name a few are now the bare minimum across all enterprise software.

When rolled out guided by the gold standards in data security, enterprise software can serve as a fortress to protect your business from hacking and breaches.

10 Types of Enterprise Software

Investing in enterprise software has short-term, mid-term, and long-term benefits. They fall into diverse categories, but here are the 10 types of enterprise software that growth-focused businesses need to consider this 2022.

1. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

One software to rule them all – this sums up what an ERP is.

As enterprises scale up, the knee-jerk reaction is to invest in more tools and more apps. Over time, businesses find themselves in the middle of a web of siloed and disconnected platforms that makes it difficult for team members, decision-makers, and stakeholders to integrate all the moving pieces of an organization’s day-to-day operations.

This leads to slow decision-making, siloed initiatives, data discrepancies, and overall incongruencies that don’t only create end-user friction internally but can also affect service or product delivery to customers and clients. This lack of coherence pulls down productivity, reduces revenue, and stunts growth.

This is where ERP comes in.

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ERP is the central software across a majority of modern business software implementations. Image source.

At the center of all modern enterprise software solutions is enterprise resource planning. Think of it as a command center from which core business functions – sales, finance, business process management, customer service, inventory management, etc. – are managed. Integrate-able with other enterprise software, it streamlines data flow, simplifies and automates complex business processes and sub-processes, and optimizes resources.

The benefits of a well-implemented ERP are far-reaching, with 97% of businesses reporting more efficient operations, 86% reporting better data visibility and reporting, and 68% citing improved growth and competitiveness.

2. Customer Relationships Management (CRM)

Digital marketing guru Ryan Deiss said that those who are willing and able to spend more to acquire customers, win.

Customer and client acquisition, retention, and management are the lifeblood of all businesses regardless of size, industry, and niche. If you have a limited IT budget and have to make a decision on which enterprise software to prioritize, a CRM platform should be at the top of your list.

Companies that invest in CRM applications enjoy greater sales productivity and results, improved effectiveness and accountability of marketing efforts, and more robust customer service and support.

Fortunately, CRM has one of the most mature categories in the entire software market so you can choose from an array of solutions depending on your current needs and budget. Whichever you choose, CRM solutions have a proven track record of producing positive outcomes, with one study pegging the ROI at $8.71 for every dollar spent.

3. Business Intelligence (BI)

If we ask you to come up with revenue forecast models for your business based on internal and external cohorts, do you know where to look for the data? And if you do know where to get the data, how long do you think it will take you to put everything together and transform the raw numbers into usable and actionable insights?

Weeks, or even months perhaps?

By the time you finish, the landscape has once again shifted and the data that was relevant a couple of weeks ago may be old news by then.

This is where Business Intelligence software becomes crucial.

According to data, organizations that use BI software are 5x more likely to reach faster decisions than those that do not.

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BI software plays a crucial role in the creation of data-driven organizations. Image source.

In an uber-competitive and ever-changing business climate, data-driven organizations are smarter organizations. Smarter organizations make faster decisions. This business agility and dynamism to respond quickly to new scenarios create more profitable opportunities and insights-driven growth.

4. Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Cosmetics brand Revlon made news headlines recently when it filed for bankruptcy. While sales are down, the company cited supply chain struggles and logistics issues which impeded their capability to meet customer demands.

This unfortunate development highlights the importance of efficient supply chain management among all businesses involved in manufacturing. You can’t do anything about external factors outside of your control such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic which broke supply chains worldwide. Globally, it’s estimated that 12% of retailers reported heavy supply chain disruptions because of the pandemic.

However, the last thing that you want to do is to exacerbate the effects of these external conditions with poorly managed supply chain management protocols.

Today, it’s almost impossible to manage procurement, storage, shipping, and distribution from different locations (nationally or internationally), without a Supply Chain Management software. A centralized SCM tracks, monitors, and optimizes all crucial components to ensure a steady flow of supplies for steady production and delivery.

It goes without saying that a sound supply chain has a direct effect on a company’s bottom line – reducing supply chain costs from 9% to 4% can double profits.

5. Human Resources Management (HRM)

You can have all the shiniest, most updated pieces of technology, but if your employees are disengaged, unproductive, and incompetent, all your investments will go to waste.

This is why Human Resources Management software is an important piece in a holistic enterprise software implementation. It probably doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of let’s say an ERP, a CRM, or even Marketing Automation, but HRM should never be overlooked.

After all, businesses are units led by people to serve other people – at least that’s the way we still see it.

The importance of HRM software has come to the forefront recently with the talent shortage a number of developed countries are facing. A report by the National Federation of Independent Businesses paints a grim picture – 47% of businesses have job openings that they are struggling to fill, the highest in the last 48 years. Forbes calls this the “Talent Shortage Perfect Storm.”

While rolling out an HRM software won’t solve this systemic talent shortage issue, it will equip your HR department with a powerful tool to reach qualified candidates faster. Think of it as a modern fishing net on steroids. Your recruitment team is able to identify the most abundant part of the recruitment sea, cast a wider net, and craft better offers to reel in top talents – whether they are actively looking for a job or not.

But recruitment is only the beginning. Currently, only 16% of companies are utilizing employee engagement technology. This stressed the fact that better adoption of HRM software is needed among enterprises, especially because of overwhelming proof that businesses with an engaged workforce are significantly more productive, efficient, and profitable.

6. Marketing Automation

There will come a point in your growth as a business when your previous marketing practices will no longer work and you will need to harness the power of technology to sustain your marketing best practices and innovate new ones.

For example, when you were starting, it was probably common for you to engage with every lead and talk with your customers. But when your lead and customer database grows from 100 to 100,000, it’s humanly impossible to stick with your old marketing ways.

Cue in Marketing Automation.

With marketing as a core business function and a growth driver for big enterprises and even startups, marketing automation software enjoys the highest adoption rate and still rising with 63% of businesses planning to increase their marketing automation budget this year.

And for good reasons.

The marketing automation statistics speak for themselves – 78% of marketing experts attribute revenue growth to marketing automation while reducing overhead costs by 12.2%.

With a plethora of marketing automation solutions to choose from, the bigger battle lies in how you utilize these technologies to amplify your messages. It may sound counterintuitive, but to fully maximize the benefits of a marketing automation software, you have to step back and really solidify your marketing basics. This involves identifying your ideal tribe or target audience, creating a story that will stick, nailing irresistible offers, and setting up profit maximizers.

Marketing automation then comes into the picture through process automation, segment building, insight, split testing, and cohort analysis, just to name a few.

In short, a marketing automation software will yield better results if you have your marketing fundamentals figured out.

7. Business Process Management (BPM)

Ride a mental time machine to a time when you were a rank-and-file employee seeking reimbursement for company-sanctioned expenses that you incurred for a certain filing period. First, you need to find the form to do this or print one if the accounting department has run out. Then, you have to secure your boss’ signature, then your department head’s signature, then the finance department’s approval, and all the other nitty-gritty in between. Before you know it, you’ve spent half of your shift doing this one, mundane task. Only to find out at the end of the day that you had to do it over again because the final approving officer wants you to itemize your expenses a certain way.

This might be an exaggerated illustration – or not.

Either way, this is where the value of Business Process Management automation lies. It simplifies, unifies, standardizes, and automates a complex series of business processes that employees need to go through to accomplish a task or a goal. This can range from simple tasks such as reserving a boardroom for a presentation or something more high-level which includes compliance and legal. It also creates better pathways of data sharing and communication among the different departments involved in common projects.

A BPM software catalyzes internal efficiencies through automated workflows, electronic form creations, dynamic approvals, automated notifications, and business activity monitoring and dashboards among others.

Not All Enterprise Software Are Created Equal: Key Considerations

With the promises and obvious ROI of enterprise software, it’s easy to jump the gun and go on a software shopping spree, only to experience buyer’s remorse afterward.

Here are some key pointers when choosing enterprise software to ensure maximum results from your investment.

Needs Precede Everything Else

Why procure a software that’s good for 5,000 employees when you don’t see your business growing to that level in the next 5 or 10 years? You don’t need the best of the best, you just need the best in its class. Proper planning is important. What are the areas in your business that are the most crucial profit centers that would benefit from automation? What areas can wait? What are your current needs and current business goals?

Buy vs. Build

here are a number of off-the-rack enterprise software solutions out there that can be implemented almost plug-and-play. However, are they going to get the job done? Will they help push you to achieve the next level of efficiency and growth that you desire? The rule of thumb is if a ready-to-use software won’t fulfill 60% of your requirements, a custom-built platform would probably be a better option. On the contrary, don’t go through the trouble of having a tailor-fit solution created simply because you have the resources to do so if a SaaS solution is readily available.

Involve As Many Internal Stakeholders As Possible

It’s easy to just see an enterprise software rollout as an undertaking for your IT department. But think of the end-users and try to involve as many of them as possible. If you’re revamping your marketing automation tools, it’s wise to involve your marketing team from the brainstorming to the beta-testing phase.

Flexibility to Scale Down or Scale Up

As mentioned, the business that you have now won’t be the business that you will have in the future – that is just the nature of the beast. Your enterprise software should be flexible enough to adapt to the ebb and flow, and varying trajectory of your business.

Do Your Due Diligence

Chances are, you will be partnering with a vendor for your enterprise software needs. You are essentially entering into a long-term relationship with this vendor and you have to exercise utmost due diligence to find the right fit. What experience do they have servicing clients in the same space? What’s their track record in terms of downtime and resolving potential issues?

There are no hard and fast rules. It’s about knowing your business inside out and how enterprise software solutions can serve you best.

Darwin Batinga

Darwin has over a decade of experience in marketing communications with special focus on brand messaging development, strategy, marketing and sales funnel developments. He has also worked as a contributor at various publications such as Futurism among others.

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